Security or Collaboration: Can We Have Both?

Micro Focus Frequent Contributor
Micro Focus Frequent Contributor
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Communication and collaboration are the lifeblood of any organization. Providing your employees with the ability to collaborate with each other, customers, partners, and vendors is vital to their productivity and to the success of your business.

When company tools don’t give employees the convenience and flexibility they need to get their jobs done, from wherever and on whatever device they choose, they're more than willing to take matters into their own hands. They bring their own devices into the workplace and download tools that give them the same ease-of-use they experience with mobile apps at home, and they do it without realizing the personal and organizational risks.

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Enter Shadow IT.

Shadow IT is rampant. According to studies conducted by McAfee, shadow IT cloud usage among enterprises is at least 10 times as common as known cloud usage.

The shift in control from IT to individual employees presents serious risks to data security, along with hefty costs and potentially negative impacts on a company’s reputation. Gartner predicts that by 2020, one-third of successful security attacks experienced by enterprises will be on their shadow IT resources. Additionally, Gartner estimates that shadow IT accounts for 30 to 40 percent of IT spending in large enterprises.

"Gartner predicts that by 2020, one-third of successful security attacks experienced by enterprises will be on their shadow IT resources."


The Numbers Don’t Lie

Indeed, businesses walk a tightrope when it comes to keeping data safe and secure and giving employees the collaboration tools they need to be productive. What’s more, their ability to share files and content is essential to moving business forward in the era of digitization and mobility, or being compliant with directives such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Research underscores just how difficult this balancing act has become. In 2018 the Ponemon Institute surveyed 1,371 IT and IT security practitioners in North America and Europe about file sharing, content collaboration, and security. Sixty-three percent of respondents said it was likely that their organizations experienced the loss or theft of sensitive information in the file sharing and collaboration environment in the past two years.

While 72 percent of the respondents said that it’s very important to ensure the security of sensitive information in file sharing and collaboration solutions, only 39 percent of respondents rated their ability to keep this sensitive content secure as very high. And only 27 percent of respondents said their organization has clear visibility into what file sharing applications are being used by employees at work.

According to the Ponemon survey, the majority of data breaches are due to risky user behavior. About 70 percent of respondents said they have received files and content not intended for them. Other risky behavior included:

    • Accidentally sharing files with individuals not authorized to receive them (reported by 67 percent of respondents).


    • Not deleting confidential content or files as required by policies (62 percent).


    • Accidentally sharing files or content with unauthorized individuals outside the organization (59 percent).

"According to the Ponemon survey... about 70 percent of respondents said they have received files and content not intended for them."


Collaboration Without Compromise Starts at the Top

The struggle for organizations to balance data security with employees’ freedom to collaborate is only growing more pronounced. It isn’t easy to gain control of file sharing and content collaboration solutions from shadow IT. Companies whose culture places more importance on employee productivity than on securing corporate data will have an even tougher row to hoe.

Whatever approach your organization takes, success will be hampered without strong buy-in and leadership. Steering your employees away from cloud-based file sharing applications and other shadow IT collaboration tools is all about getting their buy-in for an enterprise, IT-controlled solution. Your buy-in campaign needs to be cohesive and championed from the executive level down through the organization.

Your employees won’t rally around anything that doesn’t give them the same flexibility, accessibility, and ease of use as the tools they are willing to circumvent IT and company policy to get.

With our Enterprise Messaging solution, you don’t have to walk a tightrope anymore. You can give your employees what they need to communicate and collaborate on their terms while keeping valuable company data safe and secure.

Take control of shadow IT. Try Enterprise Messaging today.

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